Cheon JaRyong’s request brought the hall to a dead silence.
This was because the people who had to answer his request would not speak.
Waiting for an answer from the Four Lords, JaRyong remained kneeling on one knee, bowing his head.
“‘Test,’ you say…”
The first one to speak after the long silence was the Sword Lord. He looked over at the other three.
“Let’s make a decision through our usual means.”
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“Raise your right hand for a yea, your left hand for a nay.”
“That’s fine with me.”
“We shall go with the majority vote.”
Without any hesitation, the Four Lords simultaneously made a decision.
The Sword Lord did not raise his hand. The Dao Lord raised his left hand, while the Spear and Fist Lords raised their right hands.
“One abstention. One nay. Two yeas.”
The decision was quickly made.
“You may do as you wish, Cheon JaRyong.”
JaRyong put his palm and fist together, bowing with a kung fu salute to thank the Four Lords.
Subsequently, the martial artists in the hall took a few steps back, forming a large circle. YuWon and JaRyong ended up in the center of the circle.
“This isn’t an official part of the Cult’s test, is it?”
After taking a second to assess the situation, YuWon looked over at the Sword Lord, the head of the Four Lords.
This was an unprepared stage. There wasn’t even a notification from the system. In addition, as JaRyong, a player from a higher floor, displayed hostility against YuWon, the penalty lingered in the air. That meant the Tower had not recognized this ‘stage’ as a test.
“That’s right. There cannot be a test without a reward. Now let’s see…” the Sword Lord spoke. After thinking for a brief moment, he continued, “Among the Cult’s elixirs, we shall reward you with the Crimson Blood Medicine Ball. How does that sound?”
The 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball.」 A medicine ball that was red like blood, it was one of the better elixirs that the Heavenly Demonic Cult possessed.
Though it was not as great as the 「Great Scarlet Medicine Ball」 that could be won from the Grand Martial Arts Tournament, it was still a more valuable elixir than the 「Lesser Scarlet Medicine Ball.」 Among the elixirs one could obtain in the Martial Realm, it was a pretty decent one.
YuWon smiled faintly. While looking at the Sword Lord, he quickly glanced over at JaRyong, who was openly displaying hostility towards him.
“That will suffice.”
[The stage has been acknowledged as a test.]
[Cheon JaRyong’s restriction has been reduced.]
[Cheon JaRyong’s penalty has been reduced.]
[Defeat Cheon JaRyong and receive his acknowledgement.]
The penalty surrounding JaRyong was now lighter. It was as good as having no penalty.
‘So he’s probably around the 30th Floor in strength.’
To defeat a player of this caliber in an unplanned test, this was fairly high in difficulty.
‘So how hard is the actual test?’
YuWon had heard over and over that the Cult’s test was difficult, but this was the first time he would experience it in person.
JaRyong had his black sword ready, aiming it at YuWon.
“Did you say your name is Kim YuWon?” asked JaRyong.
YuWon nodded his head as he answered, “What about it?”
“I heard you passed the first test. That means that the Heavenly Demon has acknowledged you.”
It seemed that the news that YuWon passed the first test had already spread throughout the Demonic Cult. Though that should have been pretty obvious to YuWon. This many martial artists and the Four Lords wouldn’t have gathered over someone who wanted to take the test with no qualifications whatsoever.
YuWon guessed that this gathering was ordered by the Heavenly Demon.
“I don’t know what made the Heavenly Demon acknowledge you and give you a pass, but I—”
“So you weren’t acknowledged,” YuWon cut him off. He was going on too long, but he didn’t care to listen to him any further. “Unlike me.”
As the last player to attempt the Cult’s test, JaRyong was quite proud of that fact, despite still not having accepted being failed without even getting to properly take the test.
JaRyong ground his teeth. YuWon had hit the nail on the head with his words, and sometimes the truth hurt the most.
Unable to hold back his anger, JaRyong charged in.
JaRyong’s black martial uniform fluttered as he swung his sword.
His movements were quick, but despite the sudden attack, YuWon leisurely turned his body to dodge JaRyong’s sword.
“That’s right! I wasn’t acknowledged by the Heavenly Demon! I, who had sworn eternal loyalty to the Heavenly Demonic Cult!”
His sword was fast and had weight behind it. On the edge of his blade, there was a type of mana called ‘ki’ in the martial Martial Realm, which increased the deadliness of his attacks.
“I dedicated my life to passing this test! From when I was young, I waited to become a player, strengthening my body, practicing martial arts! And when I made it back to the Martial Realm, I challenged the test! So why?!”
JaRyong must have exerted his power to the limit, causing the penalty to start sparking.
Instead of striking back, YuWon just dodged his sword.
“How did an outsider like you get acknowledged?! Why?! Why couldn’t I be—!”
“You’re like a kid.”
YuWon’s scabbard blocked JaRyong’s blade. Then JaRyong’s sword that had seemed like it was going to slice YuWon in half slipped sideways after losing balance.
“You wanna know why?”
YuWon’s arm became reinforced with the power of a Giant.
[Your arm has been imbued with the power of a Giant.]
[Partial Gigantification will occur.]
YuWon punched JaRyong in the back, knocking him down.
After hitting the ground, JaRyong’s body recoiled, twitching. After a bit, he tried to get back up, but his eyes were already halfway rolled back.
JaRyong fell to the ground, his body going limp.
YuWon said, “There’s no special reason. It’s because you were weak,” as he looked down at the man passed out on the floor.
JaRyong had already lost consciousness. And even though he wasn’t lucid to hear it himself, with how many people in the hall heard YuWon’s words, he was bound to hear about it soon enough.
YuWon turned his head and looked over at the Four Lords, asking them, “Isn’t that right?”
The Lords broke out in laughter. The Sword Lord, who had a silent and serious personality, only smiled, but the other three were having a ball.
“That is indeed true.”
“It’s been a while since I was so entertained.”
“Even though a stage was created, if JaRyong wasn’t penalized…”
“That hypothetical is meaningless. He didn’t even draw his sword.”
“You have a point.”
The Lords started chattering amongst themselves.
YuWon patiently let them go on. He guessed that since it had been a while since someone from outside had taken their test, he should let them enjoy it as much as possible.
The Lords finished chatting after about five minutes. The first one to come to his senses was the Sword Lord.
“I apologize for making you wait. Getting chatty naturally comes with old age.”
“That’s okay, sir.”
“Where did you learn martial arts? I don’t know what school that move was from, but the way you deflected JaRyong’s sword was quite impressive.”
“I was simply imitating it.”
“You were imitating it? ‘Imitating,’ you say…”
A large smile grew on the Sword Lord’s face. He looked like he was about to burst out into laughter.
“You there! Bring out a Crimson Blood Medicine Ball!”
Following the Sword Lord’s order, a female servant that was on standby brought out a box containing the 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball.」
The box was delivered to YuWon, and as soon as he took the box, he got a message.
[You have passed the test.]
[You have obtained a 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball.」]
YuWon opened up the box. Inside the box, there was a bright red ball the size of a thumbnail. The 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball」 was now in YuWon’s possession.
“Though it isn’t that great of an item, think of it as a present for entertaining these old men.”
“Since I didn’t really do much, I am more than satisfied with this gift.”
“What did you just say? Hahahah!”
The Fist Lord, the one who had the loudest personality amongst them, broke out into laughter once again.
There were two meanings behind YuWon’s words. Firstly, that he wasn’t one bit nervous about the test against Cheon JaRyong, the vice-captain of the Black Tempest Squad. To begin with, YuWon had found the test against JaRyong as easy as a challenge from a little child. Secondly, that he didn’t consider the elixir 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball」 an all that amazing item.
The 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball」 was an elixir that was definitely far from the caliber of the 「Great Scarlet Medicine Ball.」 However, that didn’t mean that the 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball」 was just some mediocre item. It was easily worth over 10,000 points. No player that had only just reached the 10th Floor should have even gotten to see such an expensive elixir. Even right now, in the Demonic Cult, there were countless players that wouldn’t hesitate to jump in if the 「Crimson Blood Medicine Ball」 was put up as a reward.
‘The reason why they put up the Crimson Blood Medicine Ball was because a reward of that level is required in order to decrease the restriction on JaRyong as much as possible. Despite that…’
YuWon had taken down JaRyong far too easily. The fight had ended much sooner than they had expected. But that’s also why the Four Lords found the fight that much more entertaining.
“I shall now tell you the contents of the second test,” said the Sword Lord.
“The second test of the Heavenly Demonic Cult will be with me, The Fist Lord, Pung BaekLim.”
The Fist Lord. Among the Four Lords, he was the one with the most brazen personality.
YuWon shifted his attention from the Sword Lord to the Fist Lord.
Though there wasn’t much information about the Heavenly Demon, there was plenty known about the Four Lords.
‘The First Lord. One of the greatest masters of hand-to-hand combat. He’s a player that became a Ranker by mastering martial arts.’
Every one of the Four Lords were Rankers. As some of the strongest people within the Heavenly Demonic Cult, they were currently the ones actually leading the Cult.
“Of course, we won’t be having a normal duel. The objective is to endure three techniques against me, the Fist Lord.”
Three techniques. On first impression, it didn’t seem like that hard a test. But the opponent was a Ranker. On top of that, it wasn’t against a new greenhorn Ranker like Chryses, but one of the leaders of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
‘The Fist Lord is the weakest among the Four Lords. However, the power behind each of his strikes rivals the Sword Lord, who has the highest ranking.’
That was the gist of the information known about the Fist Lord in the Martial Realm.
‘And unlike with Chryses, this will be an official test.’
The penalty was a power that existed to prevent a player of a higher floor from indiscriminately using their power and destroying the ecosystem of the lower floors. However, in the case of a test recognized by the Tower, the domain of the penalty was diluted depending on the test.
Therefore, depending on the penalty, the power that the Fist Lord could use would be unpredictable.
‘But if it’s only three attacks…’
Seeing YuWon get lost in thought after hearing the contents of the test, the Fist Lord smirked.
“Of course, I also think that this is a nonsensical test.”
To require a player that had only just reached the 10th Floor to withstand three techniques from a Ranker was merciless. Even if it was the Heavenly Demonic Cult’s test, the difficulty made no sense.
The Fist Lord raised three fingers.
“I’ll give you three months.”
Three months wasn’t a very long time, however, depending on how one used it, it also wasn’t a short period of time.
“With the exception of elixirs, we’ll provide you with every resource within the Cult. The training facility, grain balls,* clothes, and a comfortable place to rest. Whatever you desire, we can—”
*TL/N: A food made by mixing grains with elixirs. It’s said to be able to hold back hunger, make your body into peak condition, and prevent you from losing too much weight during excessive training.
“No. That won’t be necessary.” Having finished thinking, YuWon shook his head.
The Fist Lord furrowed his brow, wondering what he meant.
“What do you mean, ‘it won’t be necessary’?”
Instead of responding immediately, YuWon looked at his surroundings. Thanks to the fight against JaRyong, the martial artists of the Cult were already far away from him. It was already an ideal set up.
“Let’s start right away.”
The stage had already been prepared.